Scientists find new painkiller: platypus venom

May 10th, 2008 - 10:27 am ICT by admin  


Sydney, May 10 (IANS) Platypus venom could provide potential relief from advancing pain and could be used for making antibiotic medication, according to new research. The research was part of the Platypus Genome Project that involved three University of Sydney academics in collaboration with 89 researchers worldwide who investigated platypus venom and immune genes.

Research author Kathy Belov said: “Our wildlife is an untapped resource for biomedical discovery. Platypus molecules have the potential to be developed into novel and powerful therapeutics.

“We have discovered the genes that code for the major component of platypus venom. Venom in a mammal is unusual, and we wanted to see where these genes came from, and whether they are related to venom in snakes and lizards.”

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

Researchers will continue to investigate the uses of the platypus venom in pain management, similar to the uses of snake venom, which has been used to develop various blood thinning and pain relief treatments.

The study found that the venom, delivered by the hind spur of the male platypus, is present due to genes that emerged at least 50 million years ago.

This finding means that the common ancestor of the platypus and echidna may have also been venomous.

Platypus venom is used mainly for fighting between males. It can cause dogs to die and result in excruciating pain in humans.

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